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Memorial Day will be observed on Monday, May 29 this year. Memorial Day traces back to the catastrophic American Civil War that left more than 600,000 war dead.

The people here in America started erecting monuments and dedicating them in honor of the people who died in service to their country. Special ceremonies were also held in towns and cities throughout our nation, which centered on decorating the graves of soldiers.

It is unknown where the first observance was held. Many places claim to have held the first service, but only one has been federally recognized, and that one was in Waterloo, New York. Waterloo, is located between two small lakes, Seneca and Cayuga, about an hour’s drive east of Rochester, New York.

The town druggist, Henry C. Wells, felt it was great that their village honored its Civil War veterans, but felt they should also be remembering the people who had lost their lives fighting for their country. Wells, along with General John Murray, led their village in its first formal observance on May 5 of 1866. The village lowered its flags to half-staff and marched to the strains of martial music to the three village cemeteries where graves of the fallen soldiers were decorated with flowers

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, as it referred to the practice of ”decorating” the Civil War soldiers’ tombs with bouquets of flowers, of which many were lilacs.

The first national observance of the sacrifices of the Civil War soldiers was held on May 30 of 1868. James Garfield, an Ohio Congressman at the time, was asked to make a speech at Arlington National Cemetery. Following his speech, 5,000 participants helped decorate the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there. Then in 1873, New York became the first state to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday and by the late 1800s many more cities and communities started observing Memorial Day.

After World War I, people started honoring those who died in all of the American Wars. Then in 1971, years after President Lyndon Johnson had signed a Presidential proclamation, on May 26 of 1966, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress.

Congress also established that the holiday be celebrated on the last Monday of May, and the American Flag was to be raised to full staff at governmental buildings and then lowered to half-staff until noon. The half-staff position of our country’s flag was used to remind the people of our country that more than 1 million men and women have died defending our country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

Memorial Day continues to be celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery each year with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Traditionally the President or Vice President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

Memorial Day is also celebrated across our nation each year with many special programs and services. We are thankful that people continue to set aside time to observe this special day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in service to our country, particularly those who died in battle, or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

Memorial Day has also become a day to honor our loved ones whether they were in the war or not. It is a holiday that has grown from a small event to a widely spread holiday as it is realized how many people and families now honor their loved ones when we see our cemeteries so beautifully decorated with flowers, as well as with American flags to honor those who once served our country.

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Some of our Star Eagle readers have commented that they like to read about events such as family and school reunions, birthdays and anniversaries, and birth and wedding announcements. In order to read about these important things we need our faithful readers to pass along the information to us.

Also, if you have an idea for a story that you think would be of interest to our readers, please contact me.

If you have birthdays and anniversaries you would like to include, or news to share, please contact me via e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by postal mail, P.O. Box 192, Geneva, MN 56035; or telephone, 507-256-4405.

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Birthdays and anniversaries:

• Thursday, May 25th: Dakota Matthew Kath, his 12th: Riley Dean Disher, his 10th; Jack Harpel, Jackie Johnson Miller, Jim Pichner, Cara Christensen, Valerie Peterson, Richard Fetterly, Bill Nechanicky, Rick Miller, Deb Parks, Paul Reese, Troy & Kelly Utpadel, Dave & Barbara Van Gorkom

• Friday, May 26th: Jeff Wayne, Roger Wangsness, Natalie Hanson, Jim Cummins, Jennifer Beaber, Jeremy Beaber, Melissa Redmon, Karey (Kalakian) & Chris Shearman

• Saturday, May 27th: Mitikie Gushwa, Eileen Bergland, Lisa Hanson, Steve Jepson, Shane Callahan, Stacy Wobschall, Theresa Kasper, Rick Loven, Carolee Broitzman George, Tracy Marcus, Lisa Hanson, Steve Jepson, Michael Butler, Steve & Karen Quam, Megan & Joel Cooper

• Sunday, May 28th: Sara Beth Carlson, her 7th; Lily Lee Olson, her 7th; Madalyn Kehne, Madison Catherine Knudson, Susan Schmidt, Marie Fowler, Rick & Jenny Loberg, Gerritt & Kathy Molenaar

• Monday, May 29th: Brent Peterson, Deb Farr, Odean Otterson, Gene Pederson, Mark Butler, Ross Lein, Colin Quimby, Rod & Sandi Serdahl, John & Susan Oolman, Lily & Jerry Neitzel

• Tuesday, May 30th: Payton Allen Misgen, Daniel Larson, Molly Hanson, Chuck Crabtree, Shirley Nelson, Julie & Toby Oquist

• Wednesday, May 31st: Nathan Jensen, Jerry White, Pat Draayer, Ryan Sletten, Jim Hamor, Robert DuBois, Cierra Hanson

• Thursday, June 1st: Carter Anthony Martens, Randy Hagen, Brandi Hagen, John Hanson, Bert Wiersma, Phyllis Benson, Joe Wallace, Julie Dulas, Maria Misgen, Tony Sommers, Bob Flim, Glenn Gerdes, Lindsey Lembke, Denise Evenson Wilson, Jeff & Sharon Lageson, Orville & Mavis Langlie, Dick & Arlyss Haug, and Joshua Kasper & Lyndsey Smith 2015

• Friday, June 2nd: David Lassahn, Maia Kathleen Peterson, Brent Dobberstein, Angie Goodnature Kath, Taylor Draayer, Sue Jensen Kuckenbecker, Steve Kasper, Cindy Olson, Barry Esplan, Krystle Lonning, Ashton Haried, Trent Hanson, Brandon McLaughlin, Tammy & Garth Gonnering, Greg & Nicole Shultz, Eric & Snow Lee, their 9th

• Saturday, June 3rd: Isabella Grace Kohn, her 7th; Devin Matthew Haddy, his 10th; Justin Stieglbauer, David Hall, Troy Vavra, Jason Jenkins, Michael Bartness, Angie Kasper Christenson, George Kasper, Chrisopher Conley, Max Miller, Esther Van Ravenhorst, Misty (Ebnet) & Jeremy Krueger, Eric & Christine Nelson

• Saturday, June 4th: Dale Miller, Becky Nordland, Jim Borchert, Judith Severson, Warren Nelson, Jamie & Tina Hagen, Art & Doris DeNeui, Jan & Andrew Bernau, their 10th

May you find joy and pleasure all around you on your special day.

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